The Single Dumbest Reaction to the New Yorker’s Gay Ernie and Bert Cover

Here’s this week’s New Yorker cover, which for obvious reasons is generating a fair amount of internet buzz right now.

There you have it: Ernie and Bert, long rumored to be gay, celebrating the Supreme Court’s pro-gay marriage rulings this week. (Or perhaps they’re just bitter racists happy that the Voting Rights Act was gutted.) Anyways, the single most ridiculous reaction to this cover came not from the usual suspects in the conservative blogosphere, but from the other end of the spectrum altogether. Take it away, June Thomas of Slate:

You see, straight America, there’s a difference between same-sex friends and gay lovers. Does America contain households in which lovers pass themselves off as best pals? No doubt…But that doesn’t mean that every pair of co-habiting friends is madly making out on a nightly basis. Bert and Ernie clearly love each other. But does Ernie suck Bert’s cock? I don’t think so.

Thomas treats this cover as if it were actually an argument for Ernie and Bert’s homosexuality, so she proceeds to debunk it with tedious earnestness. She also quotes a Sesame Street rep. arguing that the two don’t have a sexual orientation. First of all, what the hell else is Sesame Street going to say? Second of all, that’s precisely the point. It makes no difference what their “actual” sexual orientation is because they’re fuzzy puppets who live in a non-sexual world. Likewise, the cover is not an argument for anything–it’s a riff on an utterly harmless joke that’s been floating around forever. Which is why the illustration manages to be at once moving and playful.